Few problems seen with Coliseum vote

Turnout looks light as a Nassau resident casts Turnout looks light as a Nassau resident casts his vote at John F. Kennedy Middle School in Bethpage on plans to build a new Nassau Coliseum. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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Some voters complained it was hot. A few voting machines were broken. The doors were locked at one polling place in Mineola. But for the most part, there were no widespread problems at the polls in yesterday's vote in Nassau County to authorize $400 million for a new Coliseum, election officials said.

A handful of the 2-year-old machines broke down, but paper ballots were simply inserted into an emergency slot to be hand-counted later, said Democratic elections Commissioner William Biamonte. The entrance to one polling place in Lawrence was temporarily blocked yesterday morning by a water department work crew making repairs out front, he said.

But otherwise, he said, the election was the "same as any other one," with minor problems reported.

Some voters complained of glitches.

Roughly 60,000 voters were mailed postcards directing them to one of 24 new polling sites because theirs were unavailable. But Rita Harris, of Manhasset, said she didn't get hers. And when she got to the Shelter Rock School, she said there were no signs telling her where to go vote. She tried a few doors but found them locked. Eventually she found someone who told her to go down a hall and up some stairs, where she found the polling place.

At the Jackson Avenue School in Mineola, a sign on the front door proclaimed it to be a polling place but the door was locked. No signs directed voters to the open door in the back. Biamonte said he wasn't aware of the issue, but he said it seemed people were able to find their way into the school.

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Biamonte also said he had to call police to break up a fight between someone and a poll worker at the Jackson Avenue school.

"It was some personal thing," he said. "Nothing to do with the election."

Voters in a handful of locations reported being asked to take off Islanders gear before casting their ballots. Chris Anderson of Seaford said an elections official told him that he would not be allowed to vote unless he took off his Islanders jersey. Anderson complied.

But Biamonte said voters are entitled to wear Islanders clothing as long as they do not attempt to influence other voters. "You don't give up your First Amendment rights when you go to vote," he said.

With Randi F. Marshall

and Robert Brodsky

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